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Tar Stains on Carpet

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Whether from roofing tar, asphalt sealer, or patch tar in a tube, tar stains in carpet are one of the toughest to remove. In the end you might need a professional carpet cleaner to get these stains out - or they might be permanent. But to the extent that you can remove them or lighten them, here are the steps to take.

First, if it is wet tar and there are sizable globs of it, carefully lift them off the carpet from both sides using two pieces of cardboard. If you rub them they will spread. If there are dried chunks you might scrape some of them loose using the edge of a spoon (but the spoon will then need cleaning.

To get the rest of the tar stains out of the carpet you can try rubbing alcohol. Buy the 90% kind if possible, although the 70% brands will work too. Avoid any that have color added to them. Don't pour the alcohol directly on the carpet or it might soak down to the backing and cause delamination. Put it on a clean white cotton rag and use that to apply it carefully to just the stained fibers.

Soak up any excess after a minute, and apply again. use a clean pat of the rag each time so you can watch for stain transfer. Once there is no more transfer of the tar, you have gone about as far as you can go. If there is any stain remaining you might call a professional to see if there is something he or she can do.

Remove the alcohol using a solution of warm water and dish detergent - about four drops of Dawn or Joy in a cup of water. Apply and extract by blotting with a clean cloth or white paper towels. Repeat until the alcohol is out. Then use water in the same way to remove all the detergent residue.

Dry the carpet quickly to prevent any stain from deeper down in the fibers from wicking up to the surface.

If there is still much of a stain and it seems to be permanent (which is likely), see the following page for ideas on what to do next:

Permanent Stains in Carpet

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